Men are polygamous
A little while back, over at Hooking Up Smart, there was some debate over advice being offered to a college girl when the 19 year old boy she was kind-of-seeing-but-not-sleeping-with got caught out kind-of-seeing-but-possibly-sleeping-with someone else. Well, it happens. The boy was branded a 'player' (!) right from the get-go, a ghastly predator practising his 'toxic' dark arts on this sweet virginal child [of the same age], & some of the female commenters ( I may be exaggerating a little here) seemed just about ready to organize a lynching there & then. On the other side of the fence, most of the men tended towards a groan & a sigh & a shake of the head & a 'been-there-done-that-God-doesn't-the-desire-for-pretty-women-make-us-do-some-stupid-things-sometimes' stance. They weren't as ready to judge & demonize the boy for urges & actions they knew they could just as easily have had & carried out themselves.
The point is that it split into two camps quite quickly, with the women growing increasingly hostile & in some cases openly insulting of the men, who kept on trying to make their points in different ways but weren't being heard. Now, if you've ever been to HUS, you'll know that this is a rare occurence - the commenters there are smart, thoughtful, original, generally open-minded & constructive, & I've never found a group of women more empathetic towards the problems men face in modern society anywhere. So this was a little odd. It got kind of ugly & I've not been back since. I'm sure I will eventually, I think I just need a break to absorb it all. But since then I've been trying to figure out what happened & why it happened & if there is a way to not make it happen in the future. How do you talk between the sexes about the differing experiences of sex?
For the most part, the wonderful women of HUS are highly-advanced in their thinking about the workings of male/female relationships (the marvellous men too, of course). Regular topics of discussion there include evolutionary psychology & Game Theory, so the ability to step out of ones own personal narrative & emotions & attempt to observe the human situation objectively & dispassionately is present. Feminism is looked at very critically & it's largely understood there that men & women are necessarily different in matters relating to reproduction & therefore sex. But once this sore point was touched on, practically all the women rounded up their wagons & all that theoretical thinking went out the window. And in my life, pretty much every woman I've ever spoken to has reacted in the same way, with the exception of a few polyamorous types (but they generally haven't cleared the feminism hurdle yet, & apply all discussion about sexuality to both sexes interchangeably, so they're not much help either).
It seems to me the women got hostile because to acknowledge the essentially polygamous drive of men, to recognize that it is necessarily different to womens, that that is their nature, cannot help but threaten the (also necessary) female biological need for stability, i.e. that the man, who is needed to provide for the female while she carries her child & later nurses it, will be there to stick around.
It's become common, the past 40 years or so, to hear women talking quite openly about their experiences & requirements of sex, & as a result we as a society know quite a lot about the preferences & desires of women, which we see largely without judgement. Men's desires, on the other hand, although so overwhelmingly strong (men on average have between 20 to100 times more testosterone, the hormone which governs sexual desire in both sexes, than women), are still shrouded in shame. Female fantasies (which we call 'erotica') are considered benign. Male fantasies (which we call 'pornography') are still considered harmful & wrong. This moral judgement & imbalance makes men & women's experience of sex even harder to explain to each other. As Bill Maher said, "There are no such things as mutual fantasies: yours bore us, ours offend you."
Pornography simply doesn't interest most women, & so is off their radar - it doesn't really exist for them. Conversely, 'romantic' tales of rich surgeons/sheiks/oil barons/princes whisking barmaids/florists/typists up & off into the sunset on their yacht/mercedes/pony bore almost all men silly too, so the entire 'Romantic' aisle in the bookshop is something they don't ever really think of either.
But our sexual fantasies tell us an awful lot about how different we are from each other. Men & women may well be as much as 99% the same, but then again, we're told that the DNA of the human race & chimpanzees are about 99% the same, too. It's that 1% that makes all the difference. And the places the sexes differ the most are the areas closest to reproduction, & so sex.
Gay culture is a very interesting barometer of this, I find. Men are men, after all, & Gay men are very much the same as straight men sexually, as Sai Gaddam & Ogi Ogass' recent A Billion Wicked Thoughts has shown - it is simply the direction in which male desire is pointed that differs. What we see when we look at gay culture is men without women - more precisely, men living outside of the societal compromises they otherwise would have struck with women.
And what do we see when we look at gay culture? By a rather huge margin, the people self-reporting having the most sex in the world are single gay men. The people self-reporting the lowest amount of sex in the world are lesbians in long-term relationships. On a grossly simplified level, we have there the male/female polarity. Promiscuity is not a gay trait, it's a male trait. But it's treated with far more understanding in the gay world than in the straight world, because there everyone is male, so they all know how it is to be male, what that reality feels like, inside.
"Considering our true wishes & longings, our daily lives are pretty ridiculous"
- Dieter Duhm
It must be great to be gay, in this day & age. So simple. Can you even imagine it? If I could go to a bathhouse, pick up a different woman every night for the rest of my life & then perhaps never see her again, I would. Gladly. Wouldn't you? It doesn't have anything to do with falling in love - which I also love to do but experience as a largely seperate thing - as Lenny Bruce told us earlier, 'men detatch - not consciously but they do detatch.' There's the day-to-day need to be met - food/water/sex - & then there is romance on top of that, an additional sweet taste on top. That is the male reality stripped down the best I can. Women are different in this, or at least healthy women. A woman compulsively engaging in anonymous sex would be seen by others & herself as unhappy & damaged in some way. Yet every male is like this, to a greater or lesser degree, healthy & happy or not. Most men would feel biologically fulfilled by this: they would be doing what life has told them to do. Whereas women would be going against their own best interests in doing this, mating with whoever crosses their path.
When you bring this subject up, some women always have to tell you about that one girlfriend of theirs with a sex-drive as big as any man, who goes out every weekend picking up one-night stands. Every girl, it seems, knows at least one girl like that. And it's true, there are girls like that out there. But she's not telling you how all her male friends would like to be doing that too, if they only had the chance (which they don't). It's likely that she doesn't even know that, because that's something the men & boys she knows most likely don't tell her, for fear of being shamed or judged. And if you asked that friend of hers if she see herself doing what she's doing now at 55, 60 years old, it's highly unlikely that she will tell you 'yes'. No woman dreams of a future which consists of them simply fucking a different man - or several men - every single day for the rest of their lives until they die. No riding off into the sunset, no marriage, no children, no settling down... Just new, different, sweaty faces, day in & day out for the rest of your life.
To almost any woman that's a nightmarish vision of white-slavery-crackwhore hell. But to most men, that's veritably an all-areas pass to the Hall of the Gods.
Men are biologically driven to be with as many sexual partners as they can be: Quantity Matters. Women are instructed by their own bodies to find the best male they can find & be with them at least long enough to raise a child out of infancy. Quality matters.
This isn't rocket science - We all know this. Stand-up comedians make their living from talking about the differences between the sexes on stage every night. They can do this only because their audience already recognizes those differences & knows them to be true. Women know that men are born different, that they "think with their dicks", that they are "only after one thing". All their jokes & advice & wisdom rely upon that ancient knowledge. But there is no understanding or kindness accompanying it.
The change I see that needs to come is for the different male experience of sex to be accepted [it is], without judgement [it isn't].
19 year-old boys do not start out 'toxic players'. They start out being the male of their species whose bodies are instructing them - in the prime of their youth - to go spread their seed with as many females as possible in order to enable the survival of the human race. They make many mistakes & blunders along the way, chiefly because no-one, least of all their mothers - who are now primarily raising them - is instructing them in the best way to strike the balance between what their society expects of them & what their body demands of them. They receive no instruction on how to be male in the present society as being male runs contrary to female goals & expectations.
In the society we live now, men's needs & concerns have for some time been overlooked & downplayed, as any truly objective observer would have to agree. Mainstream society - if not civilization itself - is always a compromise between male & female concerns. If we believe in equality - or at least fairness - then we have to make sure that one sex is not promoted at the expense of the other. We cannot apply identical expectations to both men & women, as men & women are, by definition, different. If you have a law or a morality that is very easy for 50% of the people to live under & very hard for the other 50%, it isn't a fair law, & it isn't a healthy morality.
Instead of shaming male sexuality, we could instruct teenage boys about some of the realities that accompany sex out there - we could tell them that if they make a girl pregnant, they will be in legal servitude to that girl for many years, & have to work to provide for a child they weren't ready for.We could tell them that unprotected sex with a promiscuous partner can result in STDs. This, after all, is basically the message we give to girls. But we could do it without judging & shaming the boys naturally polygamous urges. We could tell them if a truly exceptional woman comes along, he may want to commit to her, to build a life together & start a family, but in the meantime not to confuse the sex he will have with love. That won't end happily for anyone.
So anyway. The fundamental point I have been trying to make in this somewhat meandering monologue is this:
Until there is a widespread recognition of male sexuality being innately different, without judgement, there can never be a truly fair, honest dialogue between the sexes.
And I guess it's in service of that that I am writing this.
There's more to be said on this, but it's starting to get on a little. I'll pick it up again next post.